The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.
Ryan Newman checks in at No. 13 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:
“Ryan is the type of driver you can count on,” one former driver says. “He’s solid, and he’s with the right team for him right now. I think it’s actually a blessing — because Ryan is the best driver at RCR right now. We know that he’s fast and we know that he’s a good driver. But he’s about timed out.”
“He reminds me of Rocky Balboa,” a former crew chief says. “He’s not going to go quietly. And I think he carries that car. How do you judge him? Because none of his teammates run up front. So he’s the right driver for the right team, at least for the time being. He’s the Rocky Balboa of that team and of his generation. He’s too proud to go down, and I think he keeps a ride as long as everybody recognizes that he’s getting more out of the car than most would — even if he isn’t winning races any longer.”
“Let’s face it: RCR is behind and has been for a couple of years now,” another industry insider says. “That doesn’t help Ryan. But you can also take another look at this and see that Kurt Busch is getting a whole lot more out of the ride Newman left behind at Stewart-Haas Racing than Newman was. So yes, Newman is solid and can consistently pile up some top-10 finishes. But it’s now been more than two years since he last won a race, and in three of the last four years he’s led a total of 41 or fewer laps each season. His best years are clearly behind him, and the equipment he’s in isn’t the best any longer, either.”
Going the distance: Newman completed 10,374 laps in 2015. That was tops on the Sprint Cup circuit and the reason why he was in title contention despite just five top-5 finishes. With only five performances outside the top 20 in 36 starts, he’s one of the most consistent drivers you could pick up.
Vegas Vacation: Newman has a 5.0 average finish in two starts driving the No. 31 car in Vegas. Richard Childress Racing put all its cars inside the top 20 in both races, so it’s safe to bet on Newman again.
One step below: Newman remains winless in two seasons driving for Richard Childress Racing, leading just 61 laps during that stretch. The last time he was victorious more than once in a season? 2004.
Restricted: Newman is 1-for-8 on top-5 finishes with RCR at Daytona and Talladega, tracks where he’s typically a victim. He hates that type of racing; perhaps emotion is factoring in?